Phil Perry |

June 28th, 2009

Over the past six months or so we've been working really hard on - a community Enterprise Linux Repository for hardware drivers.

One of the main strengths of Enterprise Linux is it's stability and long term support. However, this can also lead to a lack of hardware support where the upstream vendor is sometimes slow to backport the latest advancements. Linux in general has made tremendous progress in the last few years in terms of hardware support, to the point where virtually every device conceivable is now supported in the mainline kernel. However, given the nature of an Enterprise release, such advancements can sometimes be slow to filter down the line and this is an area previously lacking any real coordinated effort. If smaller organisations and end users are also to benefit from Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and it's rebuilds (CentOS, Scientific Linux), then it's important we ensure that these products support the latest modern hardware without destablizing their kernel.

One of the great features of the Linux kernel is it's modular nature. This makes it possible to backport virtually any driver as a kernel module (kmod) into the current kernel. For example, if your network card or sound chipset or webcam isn't supported, you can simply load an updated driver into your current kernel thus retaining the stability of your Enterprise product. ELRepo has built an enviable collection of drivers for Enterprise Linux including filesystem, graphics, hardware monitoring, network, sound and webcam drivers. Some are backported directly from upstream projects (e.g, ALSA, Video4Linux), whilst others are backported from the mainline kernel (e.g, coretemp, it87) or direct from the vendor (e.g, Intel and Realtek nic drivers). All are packaged as kABI-tracking kmods so they don't need to be rebuilt against each new kernel.

ELRepo is designed to be compatible with Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and it's rebuilds (CentOS, Scientific Linux) and not to conflict with other 3rd party repositories (e.g, RPMForge).